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fundamentalism explored

I was listening to Donald Miller on the Relevant podcast last week and there was one comment that struck me more than the others and it was a part where he differentiated between “types” of fundamentalism. He talked about how, in many ways, we are all fundamentalists (*gasp* say it aint so!) Basically, he was saying that most people who we “emerging types” call fundamentalists are more the people who Earl Creps calls preservationists (or conservationists for those who call themselves conservatives) and Miller mentions how they’re basically trying to hold onto, trying to preserve a certain way of being Christian from the past - usually from the time of the enlightenment. They’re attempting to maintain a certain interpretive method and the interpretations that come from those methods. It’s a noble purpose and they make a valiant effort but what I would argue is that preserving interpretive method is not the aim of the Gospel. In fact, preserving the interpretations that form religion are not the aim of the Gospel either.

I realize this line of thinking gets preservationists a bit defensive because they have certain convictions of conscience and I really want to try to respect that because I have convictions of conscience that keep me from walking hand in hand with certain people as well. But it’s very frustrating when any sort of dialog hits a complete dead lock because the preservationist keeps saying “I just believe the Bible,” “all I need is the Bible,” .. or my favorite…”we don’t have opinions, we have the Bible.”

Sometimes, the best we can hope for in this seeking of a “deep ecclesiology” is to extend grace, try to empathize, and move on. Sometimes, when we reach a chasm, instead of building a bridge, the quickest and most effective route is actually to just follow the ledge and go down into the canyon and back up the other side. The key is to keep an eye on the map to know when to hike around and when to build the bridge…and who should do what.


  1. Paul — March 30, 2007 #

    so true, we are all pretty much fundamentalists and the worst of us, like me, are opinionated fundamentalists.

    No doubt many of us who are now forging on will one day settle down and become the preservationists of the future and we’ll get all nostalgic for how young whipper snappers in our day listened to our elders with none of this chronological snobbery we’ll see all around us in our old age :)

  2. Mak — April 1, 2007 #

    hehe…I hope not, but I’m sure it will happen to some degree.

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